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C s s ff i h - A i 2011
N v S S i
B si ss S vi s U i
March 17, 2011
By Andrew Stackpool
THE muted bugle calls of the Last
Post and Navy's Reveille seemed
strangely fitting as they sound-
ed across the Hall of Memory at
the Australian War Memorial on
They were sounded towards the
end of the service commemorating
the 69th anniversary of the loss of
HMAS Perth I and seemed to reach
across the oceans and distance of
time and space.
More than 200 members of the
HMAS Perth Association and fam-
ily and friends joined four survivors
of the ship -- John Woods, Frank
Chattaway, Frank McGovern and
Gavin Campbell -- Chief of Navy
VADM Russ Crane and other distin-
guished guests at the service.
The service included a keynote
address by journalist and author
Mike Carlton who wrote the book
Cruiser: The Life and Loss of
HMAS Perth and her Crew, followed
by the laying of wreaths and poppies
at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
in the Hall of Memory, the bugle
calls and the naval ode.
Veterans' Voices, the ACT
Vietnam Veterans' Federation Choir,
led the singing of the naval hymn,
national anthem and the timeless
hymn Abide with Me.
Perth I honoured at AWM
A RARE and valuable Navy artefact has
been handed over to the RAN Heritage
Centre at a ceremony to commemorate
the Battle of the Sunda Strait where
HMAS Perth I wrote a proud new chapter
in the legend of Anzac.
The artefact is a piece of a canvas tar-
paulin used by a prisoner of war to record
the names of the crew of Perth, which
was sunk in company with USS Houston
during desperate attempts to stop a
Japanese invasion fleet.
The framed tarpaulin was presented
by John King,
dent of the
Forces in Fleet
during a com-
at the Naval
Chapel at Fleet
Base East on
vas will be
preserved and displayed by the Naval
Heritage Collection whose Director,
CMDR Shane Moore, said it was a unique
and poignant record of the fate of the
Perth I crew.
"On it are the names of those who
survived the sinking and the fate of oth-
ers -- known at the time -- to have died
due to various causes while in captivity,"
Some 23 officers and 329 ratings
were killed in the sea battle, while of the
334 survivors who were taken prisoner of
war about 106 died in captivity.
CMDR Moore said it was believed
that Perth survivor LSWTR Sandy McNab
listed the names on the canvas while
imprisoned at the 'Bicycle' prisoner of war
camp in Surabaya.
"Many of those on the canvas did not
survive Japanese captivity or the infamous
Thai-Burma railway, and the 'muster' was
done perhaps as a record that could be
used after the war, in the event that none
of the crew
Moore said the
by the Perth
also listed the
names of the
known to be in
"It is both
a sad and
ment and one
which is of great significance to the his-
tory of Navy and the nation," he said.
The canvas tarpaulin was found by
Sarah Seymour when looking through
the belongings of her late father, LCDR
Seymour, RN, who it is believed received
it from LSWTR McNab when visiting
ex-prisoners of war at the Heidelberg
Repatriation Hospital after the war.
-- Michael Brooke
Artefact sad and brave
CHAP Andrew Lewis, the Navy
chaplain at the Australian Defence
Force Academy, led the prayers.
Perth and the American cruiser
USS Houston were lost in a short,
gallant fight against overwhelming
Japanese forces as they tried to break
into the Sunda Strait (Indonesia)
shortly before midnight on February
Of Perth's ship's company of
681, 353 died with the ship. The
survivors were sent to the infamous
Thai-Burma railway and only 218
finally returned to Australia.
In his address, Mr Carlton said
many of the crew were young men,
still in their teens. They had sailed
into an adult war "and performed
"People say that they followed
Navy tradition," Mr Carlton said.
"I disagree. They didn't follow
traditions -- they made them."
Survivors and former prisoners
of war Frank Chattaway and Frank
McGovern summed up that view.
"We definitely would not want
to go through a night like that or
become prisoners of war again," they
"But, that is what we did and we
are proud we did."
SERVICE PRIDE: CAPT William Martin (centre) with survivors
of HMAS Per th I, from left, John Woods, Frank Chattaway, Frank
McGovern and Gavin Campbell.
Photo: LAC Bill Solomou
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